Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the Easter bombings in Sri Lanka that killed more than 320 people, the group’s Amaq news agency has said.
The terrorist group released a photograph of the alleged ringleader of the attacks, as well as what it said was the nom de guerre of each attacker. The group said the bombers targeted citizens of the US-led coalition fighting Isis and referred to Easter as an “infidel holiday”.
Experts have said the suicide bombings of three churches and three luxury hotels bear the hallmarks of the group.
Sri Lanka’s prime minister said on Tuesday there were more explosives and militants “out there”. Ranil Wickremesinghe also acknowledged there was a prior warning of the attacks and said some officials would likely lose their jobs over intelligence lapses.
He also revealed there was a fourth failed attack on another major hotel and that the Indian embassy was also a possible target.
Footage has also emerged of a suspected suicide bomber entering St Sebastian’s church in Negombo moments before the attack there. The subsequent explosion, not shown in the video, was the deadliest of the series of coordinated bombings in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday, with at least 110 people thought to have been killed. The footage was broadcast widely on Sri Lankan news channels.
Earlier, Sri Lanka’s defence minister, Ruwan Wijewardene, said the attacks were a response to the recent murder of muslim worshippers in New Zealand.
Wijewardene also told parliament on Tuesday that the death toll had climbed to 321 people – including 38 foreigners – and reiterated that the prime minister and other key officials were never told about the possibility of an impending attack.
Sri Lankans have started to bury the dead from the string of bombings. Tuesday has been declared a national day of mourning and white flags were hung from buildings across Colombo as a three-minute silence was held from 8.30am, about the time of the first of Sunday’s bombings.